Squiz Today / 21 January 2021
Squiz Today – Thursday, 21 January
"I'd just encourage them to minimise interaction with the mice.”
Was the solid advice of Victorian Police Minister Lisa Neville for the tennis gang locked up in hotel quarantine after the small rodents were reported in the rooms of some less than thrilled guests. Glamorous life, this pro-sports circuit…
BIDEN PLEDGES TO ‘RESTORE THE SOUL OF AMERICA’
“At this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed,” Joseph Robinette Biden Jr said after being sworn in as America’s 46th president of the United States this morning. Promising to unite the country and get cracking on the top agenda items - dealing with the coronavirus crisis and rebuilding the economy, and the threats of climate change and racial injustice - he says he will do his bit to “heal a broken land.”
WHAT WENT DOWN?
It was one thing to say it would look different, but seeing is believing. The stage and surrounds looked empty compared to ceremonies of the past. And with everyone in masks unless they had a speaking role, things looked restrained. An animated version of The Star-Spangled Banner by Lady Gaga injected some energy, with Kamala Harris’s historic swearing-in up first. And Jennifer Lopez’s medley of patriotic songs was the warm-up act for Biden's oath of office. In his inaugural address, Biden rejected the angry tone of politics of the last 4 years. “Unity is the path forward, and we must meet this moment as the United States of America. If we do that, I guarantee you we will not fail.” Pictures are here, and to enhance your experience, a Biden-Harris curated playlist is here. Some lighter moments: country singer Garth Brooks broke social distancing protocols for hugs, and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ excellent mittens.
SO TRUMP HAS MOVED ON?
Literally, yes. Becoming the first president not to attend the inauguration of his successor for 152 years, he and First Lady Melania left Washington for their fancy Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Before Trump handed back the nuclear codes, he pardoned 73 people and commuted the sentences of another 70. Heavy with conventional candidates whose cases point to failures in the justice system (and rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black…), it's Trump's allies who stand out - especially his former chief strategist/alt-right media figure Steve Bannon. But if you’re asking about whether Trump has moved on figuratively speaking? Not so much… In a farewell address yesterday and leaving the capital this morning, he hinted at a comeback. “We will be back in some form,” he said.
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COMING AND GOING ON AMERICA’S BIG RELATIONSHIPS
The changing of the guard in Washington means tying up loose ends and new thinking on some tricky issues. And yesterday that happened in the realm of America’s foreign affairs:
• Seen as the Trump administration’s parting shot at China, departing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said China has committed genocide against the Uyghur Muslims. China has detained up to a million Uyghur Muslims over the past few years in camps - it says for "re-education”. Biden’s pick to replace Pompeo, Antony Blinken, said Pompeo’s assessment “would be my judgement as well.” China responded overnight calling Pompeo a "doomsday clown".
• And an intelligence report into the 2018 murder of writer and US resident Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents will be declassified by the new government. That means the US would officially blame de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the killing - a claim he’s denied. It’s a big deal because Saudi Arabia is America’s friend in the Middle East, but Biden’s not a fan.
JACK MIGHT BE BACK…
Mysteriously disappearing from public view last October after insulting the Chinese Government, e-commerce giant Alibaba’s former boss Jack Ma yesterday came back into view. According to Chinese news outlet Tianmu News, Ma showed up, albeit virtually, for a conference on rural education run by his philanthropic foundation. It gives weight to the theory that Ma is lying low, and commentators say his turn at a charity event was deliberately staged to depict Ma in a more humble light. Whatever the strategy, it was good for business… His reappearance saw Alibaba’s share price jump 9% yesterday.
Fascinating story, eh? We’ve done a Squiz Shortcut on it this week. Read on for deets…
NETFLIX SUBS CRACK 200 MILLION
Lovin’ the coronavirus sick is streaming giant Netflix. It had its biggest year yet and passed the 200 million subscriber mark for the first time with a record 36.6 million people signing up in 2020. Coming home strong with the release of chess drama The Queen’s Gambit and Regency romp Bridgerton, Netflix’s growth exceeded its own expectations and saw the company’s share price jump 13% yesterday. Its growth means the streamer won’t continue to borrow to fund its future plans, and it reckons it will come close to breaking even if it keeps its subscribers.
If you’re talking to Japanese and International Olympic Committee officials, they’ll tell you the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games will go ahead in July and August. “Unlikely,” says Keith Mills, deputy chairman of the London 2012 organising committee. “Personally, sitting here, looking at the pandemic around the world, in South America, North America, Africa and Europe, it looks unlikely,” Mills said yesterday. Some Aussie sporty types agree… Mills says regardless of what organisers say, they’ll be making plans to can it, but they’ll likely make the call “at the last minute in case the situation improves dramatically.” Or maybe turn Netflix streaming into a virtual Olympic sport and be done with it?
APROPOS OF NOTHING
An Egyptian chef has been arrested for making some, ahem, anatomically graphic cupcakes for a private party. Critics say it’s the latest example of the state exerting its control over public morality.
Ever found something you didn’t know was missing? A museum in Naples has had its 500-year-old copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi (and painted by one of his students) recovered after being found in a 36yo’s bedroom. Thanks to COVID, the museum has been closed, and they didn't know it was gone. The original Mundi became the world’s most expensive painting in 2017 when it was sold for US$450 million.
SQUIZ THE DAY
Joe Biden's presidential ongoing inauguration celebrations - Washington DC
Women's March - international
ABS Data Release - Labour Force, December
From 9.00am (ACDT) - Cycling – A downsized Santos Tour Down Under begins (on until 24 January) – Adelaide
• the execution of the last king of France, King Louis XVI during the French Revolution (1793), as well as the deaths of Vladimir Lenin (1924) and George Orwell (1950)
• the start of the Battle of Khe Sanh (1968)
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